By Francis Gitahi Njenga
Thousands of Nakuru County Government employees have come together as one for a colorful end year luncheon hosted by Governor Kinuthia Mbugua, Friday, 16th December 2016, at Nakuru Sports Club grounds.
“I have never in my life been to a party as large as this,” said one employee in reference to the more than 2,000 workers seated under a giant tent and eating away all at the same time. “It’s the largest party I have seen… it must have cost them tens of millions… and the lives of several bulls, which is a good thing – and good riddance – if that is what it takes to motivate staff.”
And they do not stop milling in. At one time the mega tent is full to capacity with every seat occupied and tables weighed down by steaming platefuls of delicacies: stew, chapatti, nyama choma, wine… name it all! It’s more than what some will have for Christmas.
I have been to other parties before but none came close to be as opulent as this, says another employee amidst chomps of goat ribs and tumblers of red wine downer. First, with 10 serving points, the queue has never been quicker; food display is mouth watering; variety five star; food score nothing less than excellent… and everything else good you never told anyone this year.
“Whoever pulled out this feat is a genius,” goes on the luncheon talk. From here I want to hear which other county treated its employees to grandier fete than this… Nairobi… Mombasa… Bomet… unlikely! Most of these entities have little or no regard for its workers… and when something like this happens to us, we have all the reasons to rejoice and thank God for it.”
Nakuru Workers sample delicacies during fete
What’s more, in this party, there is nothing like Who is Who. It’s a feast day for all and only you and your appetite defines you. Today there is no High Tables nor other tables… the governor himself is lost somewhere in the middle of the crowd sandwiched between cleaning department and the dispatch office; his deputy is sharing table, chat and goat ribs with drivers; executive members are downing their wine with messengers, Chief Officers with laborers… a perfect mix and harmony rarely experienced in business offices.
This is indeed a great feast day… one that’s complete with live band and a high flying dance troupe; recitals, office choirs. The Master of Ceremony is none other than the County Chief of Protocol; Mike Gitone. From time to time he unexpectedly draws guests to the dais; and when audience and those summoned wait in suspense… the DJ drops a number as Gitone vacates the dance floor.
Governor Mbugua leads workers in praise and worship
The governor himself is caught in this trap once. And when the speakers boom and the DJ gyrates his discs, the crowd goes wild cheering up the governor. He does not let them down. He swings; holding hands with one lady executive member, and the rest… as they say… is history. The two move rhythmically, step in, step out, hands up, hands on their waists, dance, this way, that way… juu kwa juu… chini kwa chini…!
For the next one hour, it is dance and song. One moment the speakers are booming with “Mwana wa Mberi”, the next minute workers are lining up and moving round the field in “Mugithi Uyu.” From secular to gospel, everyone dances until thin streams of sweat run down their brows. It doesn’t matter whatever job rank is your neighbor’s rank, what is important is the moment.
As worker take back their seats, water or soda cooling off their tongues, Gitone calls the event to attention. It is all about getting together as one, he says. Despite the many challenges experienced in different workplaces, today is not the day for grumbling or voicing complaints but rather, a day for putting all burdens aside just to happy and bond.
Often, says Gitone, the lives of a public service workers is clouded with countless challenges, and many people hardly get time to treat themselves even the least of rewards. It is in this regard therefore that the county had decided to bring the Christmas earlier for its employees, though simple in gesture. By sharing the luncheon, workers would have a reflective moment together.
Governor Mbugua leads employees in ‘Mugithi” dance
Go tell it to the mountains… said governor Mbugua. Nakuru values it workers, and we will stop at nothing, including many more future luncheons, just to make them feel appreciated and part of the system. Public service workers have as much stake as everyone else in the interests of this county… and it is upon those of us in government to build an environment for them to perform.
A government that demeans it workers is doomed, said the governor. But Nakuru County, with 5,600 workers, is blessed with an experienced, talented, and committed workforce. At this level, our workforce is among the top five largest of any county, something which comes with its own peculiar challenges; top among them being delayed promotions.
In the last one year, he said, the county has promoted 1,980 workers across all departments. Within the health department alone, 1115 health workers have been promoted and about 400 others are currently ongoing.
The health department, he said, has been the greatest beneficiary of them all. Due the sensitivity of this department, we sacrificed everyone else last year for the health the sake of health workers. However, the issues they raised are still persisting, but we hope these will be resolved soon.
Following the health workers strike, he said, Nakuru County recruited and deployed 200 nurses. He said he was glad that the Council of Governors had recently signed a Recognition Agreement with the National Union of Nurses, meaning that County Governments will henceforth recognize and negotiate with them as legal trade unions, a positive and beneficial development for nurses.
On the doctor’s strike, Governor Kinuthia said counties would reason with them and it was upon union leaders to come to a round table. However, he said, if the matter is not resolved by this Christmas Day, Nakuru County will have no other option but advertise for these posts.
Deputy Governor Joseph Ruto, right, follows proceedings
Speaking earlier, Deputy Governor, Joseph Ruto, said that there was need to treat every worker fairly, emphasizing on the need for equity in matters of workers welfare. When one section of the workforce feels neglected, there was bound to be trouble for everyone.
To crown the day, excelling workers and departments were awarded certificates and trophies, with the Department of Health taking home the cup. Some employees received promotion awards, one one them a guard who had worked for the last 32 years in same grade.